Snowpocalypse 2015

Last weekend marked a tough time for the community of Kitimat, even tougher for those of us down here in Kitamaat Village. I kept a journal of my experience, here it is. Journal entries appear in italics, editorial notes appear afterwards.

Thur. Feb 5
• snowed hard all day; was difficult driving through town
• 10:15 pm: power goes out

Note: I had to make a few stops in Kitimat before heading home to the village after work. After I got home, the lights flickered a few times. From living here for so long, I know that’s usually a sign that the power’s about to go out. I was prepared for it to be out for a couple of hours (I stockpile candles, BBQ lighters, matches, flashlights and batteries for just such an occasion) but little did I know what was about to happen this time around.

Fri. Feb. 6
• alarm went off at 4:00 am instead of 4:30 am
• got up, showered, started shovelling
• gave up shovelling around 5:00 am after managing to make a path to the end of my car
• went inside and went back to sleep
• phone rang around 8:00 am; it was my boss telling me not to come in to work, classes were cancelled
• did some reading; watched TV shows that I had ripped to my tablet
• at some point during the day, I tried to shovel; gave up again
• what I ate today: a banana, an apple, an orange, some raw Pop Tarts, some chips
• fell asleep listening to 92.9 FM hoping to hear news reports but didn’t hear anything
• water was off for a couple of hours; I don’t know if the pipes froze, that might’ve caused the water to stop running

Note: Speaking of batteries, I always have a 9 volt battery in my alarm clock. It operates, but you can’t see the time. I’m not sure why it went off early but I did notice that when the power came back on, it was showing the wrong time.

One of the most frustrating things was not knowing what was going on. The only radio station that I was able to get inside my house gave no updates as to what was happening. When I sat in my car, I was able to get CFNR, which I know usually has a news break at the top of every hour, but I still wasn’t hearing anything about what was going on in my area because there were no news breaks.

Sat. Feb. 7
• 8:00 am: got up, didn’t shower
• started shovelling; made a path from my front door out to the street; ran into some hard-packed snow
• it’s pretty much stopped snowing; there’s still some coming down but very lightly
• 11:00 am: took a break from shovelling to rest and eat; had a cereal bar and some chips
• managed to clear most of the snow that was on top of my car and cleared a path behind it
• as I kept shovelling, I kept getting warmer; started off wearing 2 or 3 layers and heavy ski gloves, ended up with 1 layer and thinner gloves
• 11:30 am: went outside to continue shovelling
• 12:30 pm: came inside to use the bathroom and eat
• 1:30 pm: finished uncovering my car; started it up, let it warm up for a while
• still more shovelling to do: around my car, behind it, garbage cans but I’ll leave that for tomorrow
• total time spent shovelling: Fri. – 1 hr, Sat. – 5 hrs
• cold in the house, hard to keep warm
• around midnight, someone dropped off some chicken noodle soup for me, I ate it immediately

Note: I was trying to conserve my hot water since I had no idea when the power was coming back, which led to my decision not to take a shower that day.

Dealing with the hard-packed snow was difficult. I have an edger that I used to break it up but I was only able to break up small parts at a time and it was tiring. Ultimately, it made things easier because I couldn’t get through it with just a shovel.

Eagle Tree Mid

Also, while I was shovelling, I looked up at the trees behind my house and realized I had a friend.

As you can see in the picture, there was an eagle perched on one of the tree tops. He stayed there for quite a while. It was nice to have some company.

I started shovelling soon after waking up everyday for three reasons: 1) it was something to do and it needed to be done, 2) I had daylight to work with, and 3) it kept me warm. The problem was, I never had any idea how cold it was outside so I started off dressing as warmly as I could. Then, as I started to shovel, I would warm up and start feeling like I was dressed too heavily which meant I had to keep coming inside to change clothes. I was constantly going in and out of my house, which was disruptive and personally frustrating.

Another thing was that I was hanging up my clothes to dry but since it was cold in the house, they weren’t really getting dry. My ski gloves in particular weren’t drying out which was a little gross.

By the time I got all the snow off of my car, I was still blocked in with a wall of snow behind my car. Part of me felt like I should keep going, but I was just too exhausted to do any more shovelling. I figured it would take me about another 2 hours to completely clear all the snow.

So close, yet so far away.

Below are a couple of pics of my progress.

Shoveling Day 2 View 1

Shoveling Day 2 View 2

Sun. Feb. 8
• woke up around 8:00 am, went out to continue shoveling
• 10:00 am: finally finished shoveling; went for a drive around the village; the highway is closed
• total time spent shoveling: 8 hours since Friday
• took a shower around 10:30; running out of hot water, it was barely lukewarm; I might have enough left for one more shower
• went to the rec. and had some soup
• 7:20 pm: the power came back on
• total time without power: 69 hours

Note: It’s interesting to me that I woke up around the same time the last two days when I didn’t set my alarm.

From what I can gather, an evacuation notice went out at about 5:00 am. If so, I never heard about it. Probably because I was sound asleep at that time; but even if I had known, I probably still would’ve stayed home. I had dealt with the situation up until then without much trouble and I really had a feeling we’d have power back soon and I wanted to be home when it did. Also, if I left home, what would I do with my cats? I wasn’t just looking after myself, I had to look after them, too.

After waking up, I was so relieved to finally have all my shovelling done. I could move my car and, considering that I had garbage building up, it was a good to finally uncover my garbage cans so I could get rid of it all. I honestly didn’t know where my garbage cans were, I just picked a spot and start shovelling. When I heard a “thunk”, I knew I was in the right place.

The previous day, one of my relatives told me there was food being served down at the Haisla recreation centre. I meant to go down there that night, but for one thing I couldn’t get my car out of my driveway at that point, and for another thing I’d hurt my knee shovelling so I couldn’t walk down there.

I was relieved when the power finally came back on but the lights continued to flicker for a couple of hours afterwards. I didn’t start to relax until I woke up the next morning and found that I still had power. There have been other times when the power went out again shortly after being restored, so I was prepared for the worst. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

While that wasn’t the nearly longest I’d gone without heat and hot water, it was the longest I’d gone without power. All of my electronic devices had died and I had no way of recharging them. I found an old Discman that I still had and was able to at least listen to CDs and keep replacing the batteries as they died. See kids, old technology can pay off.

Another thing that happened this day was that I remembered I had some bagels stashed away. I cursed myself for not remembering two days before as at this point I was getting tired of eating fruit and chips and it was nice to have something else.

Mon. Feb. 9
• went over to town to pick up some things; lots of trees down all along the highway
• smells like one of the cats peed downstairs; been smelling it for the past couple of days; tried cleaning the floor down there but I can still sort of smell it
• posted on Facebook to let people know I’m okay; I wish people wouldn’t worry about me, I’m a survivor; me and my mom survived without heat and hot water for more than a year before, three days was easy in comparison

Note: The cat pee smell eventually went away.

While I had power, I didn’t have internet. I made my Facebook post from my phone in town.

Overall, it was a tough situation but it really wasn’t a big deal to me. I spent a lot of time reading and sleeping. Having an idea of what was going on would’ve helped, I was pretty much out of the loop. Like, for example: was anything open in town on Monday? I had no way of knowing other than going over and finding out for myself.

Another thing that frustrated me was that I felt like I’d been robbed of my long weekend. I did get the day off work on Friday but I couldn’t have made it out of my driveway if I tried. I didn’t have a choice but to stay home. So when the power eventually came back on, I pretty much had one day to myself and that day was spent cleaning, shopping and getting ready to go back to work the next day. After everything I’d been through, what I wanted was some time to myself to relax.

I also can’t help but wonder: why don’t we have our own power supply out here in the village? The power goes at least once a year (sometimes up to half-a-dozen times or more) and it’s usually because of trees falling over due to either snow build-up or high winds, or both combined. The power lines travel 11 km from town to the village with thousands of trees close to them, it’s little wonder that the power goes out so regularly when the lines are so vulnerable.

Anyway, this was my experience. It might’ve seemed unbearable to some people, but as I said before, I’ve been forced to live through conditions that were as bad or worse for much longer. It was not much of a problem for me. I don’t think people understand just how determined I can be and how hard I can push myself when I’m challenged.

Having said that, I wouldn’t want to do it again.

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Happy Anniversary

I got an email today informing me that I started my first Tumblr page 3 years ago. While I no longer post on any of my Tumblr pages, I did find this interesting.

Sometime last year, I consolidated my blogs. The result was this website. When I started blogging, I had a couple of things that I don’t really have now: something to say, and time to say it.

I have looked back on some of my blog entries and realized how long most of them are. You need a lot of free time, not only to write that much, but also to read it. As a writer, you often think quantity over quality. Not to say I think my posts lacked in quality, but I dedicated so much time to writing that it took away from other aspects of my life. One of those things is reading. Work also does that.

Over the Christmas holidays, I found myself with some free time and started reading again. A lot. Since work started again, I haven’t had as much time to read but I have been making more of an effort to do it. Lately, I’ve been reading autobiographies of hockey players.

Today, I just wanted to post some thoughts about my blog. I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like, but I still want to do it. Originally, I intended to write on a regular basis but given my limited time, it’ll be sporadic at best.

My original blog was called Synaptic Wanderings, which was a term I came up with years ago. It referred to random thoughts that the human mind often creates, and my Tumblr page was meant to reflect that. I might post some of these thoughts from time to time, but it probably won’t happen on a regular basis. I’m writing this post while continually wiping cat hair off of the keyboard of my new computer. I don’t know if this keyboard just naturally attracts cat hair or if I’ve just been petting my cats more lately.

Anyway, what I plan to do is to just keep wandering.

Road Trip 2014: Day 2 – Part 1

Sunday August 10th, 2014

I wake up around 6:30 a.m.

In the morning.

Got out of bed, showered, got dressed. Decided to try out De Dutch. I’ve never been to one before. There was one that opened up down the street from me when I lived in Victoria. That seems like a lifetime ago but it’s been little more than a decade. I tried to go there once but there was a long line-up to get in so I left and never tried again.

No line-up here. Or queue, as the British say. Isn’t it weird that over in England, they speak the exact same language that we speak but it’s almost an entirely different language altogether? That’s mad.

A blonde waitress greets me and seats me. As she walks away, I can’t help but notice that she has really nice legs. I’m a leg man so I appreciate this more than most. From here on out, I will refer to her as Legs.

So Legs comes back and asks if I would like something to drink. I ask for orange juice.

While I wait for my morning drink, I peruse the menu. A lot of options, I can’t decide.

I finally decide to get DeBakon and Eggs. It’s self-explanatory: it has what it says plus toast and hashbrowns. Plus your choice of salad or fruit. I tell Legs that I’ll have the fruit with my meal, even though I’m pretty sure I won’t be eating very much of it, if at all. Well, I told her the first part. The rest was what I was thinking to myself. I’m not really a big fruit/veggie fan.

As I’m waiting for my food, I’m browsing on my phone. Intermittently, I watch Legs go back and forth serving other people. There’s other waitresses working but she’s the most interesting.

My order comes and I dig in. It’s fairly straight forward, with the exception being that the bacon is not in strips like we’re used to eating. They’re in thin, circular slices but otherwise taste about the same as regular bacon.

I finish my breakfast, pay Legs, then leave. I drove this time, only because I knew I was going to be driving around town most of the day.

Before going anywhere, though, I decide to take a test run out to the arena where I’ll be watching Alice in Chains tonight.

My trust level in my TomTom is not at an all-time high so I want to test it and see if I get there on the first try. I set the coordinates and drive off.

I know the arena is a little ways out of the downtown area but not too far. TomTom tells me that I’ll get there in about five minutes. That’s, of course, if I get there at all.

I’m following TomTom’s directions and get closer to the arena. I make a right turn then a left and find myself outside of a parking lot. I see a sign that says: Parking $3. What? I don’t want to pay for parking, I’m not planning on staying for whatever’s going on here. Am I in the right place?

There’s two lanes so I pull into the left one hoping It’ll lead me out of here. It doesn’t.

I’m caught in a trap, I can’t walk out, because I love you too much baby.

I pull up to a checkpoint and a lady hands me a parking pass. I don’t have to pay for it and as I drive through the parking lot I see what’s going on. I’ve inadvertently driven into the BCNE: the British Columbia Northern Exhibition.

A carnival.

This is not what I want at all so I look for a way out. I follow the arrows and drive down a dirt road that takes me past the front of the CN Centre. So I am in the right place after all. I just didn’t know there was a carnival happening outside of the arena.

I pull into another parking area and decide to get out of my car to take a look. I see a car that’s coming the same way I was, only it turns left just before the parking lot that I’m currently standing in. I watch as it drives to the end of a driveway, turns and exits. So that’s my way out.

I jump back into my car and set new coordinates for Pine Centre Mall, a place I discovered accidentally last time I was in PG. It has a lot of stores. Target, Coles and Sears are of particular interest to me. When I get there, I realize it’s still early, around 10 am. Is anything open yet?

I drive around to the back entrance of the mall, the parking lot’s pretty much deserted which isn’t a good sign. I try to do a Google search on my phone to find out if the mall is open yet. My phone’s slow, been that way a lot lately.

While I’m waiting, I watch as other people pull in. One guy goes up to the doors, pulls on the door and walks in. Looks like it’s open.

I get out and as I get to the doors, I see that it doesn’t actually open until 11 a.m. I decide to go inside anyway and see if anything’s open yet.

Nothing’s open but I wander around to see what stores are here. I didn’t get a chance to explore last time I was here so this is a good opportunity.

It’s a weird feeling walking through an empty mall with no stores open. It feels lonely though I’m not the only one wandering around. Why are other people here? The same reason I am? Killing time until the mall opens because we didn’t check before we left early this morning?

There’s nothing here that really catches my eye and I’m getting bored so I leave. There’s a SportChek beside the mall that’s open so I decide to go in and kill some more time.

Time goes by so slowly when you’re waiting for a mall to open. I have measured out in my life with coffee spoons.

I wasn’t planning on buying anything but as I wander through the store I find an Adidas jacket and a Vancouver Canucks shirt that I want so I buy them.

It’s still not 11:00 yet but I decide to drive over to the other side of the mall. Turns out Target’s already open so I walk in.

Normally, most place I shop in, I get a basket but I get a cart as I know I’m going to buy a lot here.

I start off in the stationery section. Last time I was here I bought some Moleskine notebooks, I liked them so I want to get some more. I buy some small ones and some medium ones. The pen that I’ve been using to write travel notes with keeps overflowing so I look for a new one. I decide to try some Paper Mate Ink Joy pens.

From there I go to electronics and look at Xbox 360 games. They have Arkham Origins on sale for $10. There’s no way I can pass this up so I grab it. I have the first two Arkham games and I’ve been looking for the third one so this is a major score since it’s normally at least $50. I don’t play video games very much anymore. In fact, I bought Arkham Asylum about 6 months ago and I’m still not finished it. I don’t know when I’ll get around to playing Origins but I’ll play it one of these years.

That’s kind of a pet peeve of mine: so many games have such long single-player campaigns that it takes me forever to get through them. Oh well, let’s call this an investment.

Next I go to the clothing department. Last time I was here I bought some Haggar pants and I liked them a lot. Problem was, one pair that I bought were a little too small as I bought the wrong size. I get the same kind in the right size and another pair of a different color that I didn’t see before. I also buy a straw fedora as it’s pretty warm here in PG and my felt fedora is a little too hot to wear. After I pay for my stuff and put it all in my car, I notice it’s getting close to lunch time and I know there’s a McD’s nearby so I decide to go across the street to eat.

After eating, I walk back across the street and continue shopping. The thing is, it’s getting even warmer out. I’m getting a bit of a headache and feeling a little dehydrated. There’s a Shopper’s Drug Mart right beside Target so I go there, get some Tylenol and look for something to drink with it. I’m about to get some regular water but for the hell of it, I look at what else they have. I spot some flavored water, one of which has green tea and pear flavoring. That’s unusual and it sounds good so I buy it. I get out to my car, pop a couple of Tylenol and take a drink of the flavored water.

20140810_154312_Android

Holy Christ, it’s good. Surprisingly so. Normally flavored water is just that: water with a tiny bit of flavoring in it so it tastes like watered-down Kool-Aid. This actually has taste to it. Maybe it’s because I’m thirsty but I think this has become my new favorite thing.

Next I go to Sears. I look around but don’t buy anything. From there I check out Cole’s book store. I buy a book called The Jedi Doth Return. It’s a re-telling of Return of the Jedi but it’s written in the style of Shakespeare. I have the first two books and I’ve been looking for this one. I also buy Fight Club and Choke; both are novels written by Chuck Palahniuk and both were made into movies. I’ve seen both but have never read either of the books so that’s why I decided to get them.

It’s late afternoon by this time and I need to eat and get ready for the concert. The question is, where? I could go to Wendy’s again but I decide to try out this Daddy-O’s place. I have no idea where it is so I look up the address, punch it into my TomTom and drive off.

Things are okay until I get close to the place and my GPS tells me to pull a u-turn.

Uh, what? I’m pretty sure that’s illegal and it would just be a bad idea at a busy intersection like this one.

I defy my GPS once again and try to find the place on my own. I drive around in circles and don’t find it.

To hell with this. I saw a McD’s on the corner so I go there. After eating, I have a feeling that I’m close to Daddy-O’s so instead of driving, I decide to try and find it on foot. After crossing to the other side of the street, I walk past a motel and there’s the place. No wonder I didn’t see it, the place is facing the opposite way from where I was driving. I actually did drive past it but it was hidden in a horseshoe configuration of buildings so I never saw it.

Well, that solves that mystery. It’s too late to go there now, I just ate and it’s getting closer to show time and I need to get ready.

So I walk back to my car, drive back to my hotel and prepare myself for Alice in Chains.

But that’s another story.